der Wiederbeginn (restart)

So the good news is you didn’t hear from me within 24 hours of the previous post.

With the help of some truly amazing people and a lot of luck, I got on the plane, I had an amazing trip, I got home.

It was truly yet another amazing trip. Today someone asked me two difficult questions: where I was and what I liked most about the trip.

Bearing in mind I had landed at the airport about 2.5hours before I stepped into the office, I had not much interest in making small talk yet. But these questions were tough to answer.

To the first question – where was I? I was mostly in Toulouse, but in between, I was in a bunch of small towns I had never heard of prior to this. Basically S picked me up from the airport, and I saw nothing of Paris. We drove south to Créteil to visit a lovely family with the loveliest, most mischievous looking little 19-month-old. He was my perfect entertainment as I drifted in and out of concentration for the french conversation going on. Tee hee.

Then S drove west to Jouy-en-Josas where he is due to officially graduate in June – but at the campus I bumped into someone I knew and he didn’t know anybody. Hooray! I’m an international celebrity! Haha, I kid. We also took some walks around a cave, castle and haunted house. Obviously he’s spent a lot of time wandering about while living there for a year.

Then we went south to Orléans, where we crashed for the night (we were Hotel Formule 1 hopping) and it began to snow. My tropical heart was racing!

The next day, we left without really seeing the city center of Orléans, but we headed southwest to Chambord to have a look at the castle. It was pretty, snowy and darn cold. We were freezing walking in and out of the rooms of the castle, just hopping to spot a fire place like at the ground floor. Then it was east to Blois to stay for the night.

The next day, we headed southwest to Chenonceaux, and in a slight press for time, we just went as south as possible till it was getting late. So we stopped by Limoges for the night. I was happy to get off the highway because between these two cities, the highways were extremely hilly to say the least. I felt the pressure in my ears, S had to constantly switch between the light intensities of the car.

Finally the next day we had to go all the way south to Toulouse as we had to meet some people by noon. Whoa, what a ride. We spent most days there, except on Saturday where we headed southeast to Carcassonne.

That sums up where I’ve been. What was my favourite? This was truly the toughest one.

Was it seeing the snowy white countryside while driving, or passing by vineyards and green grasslands down south? Was it making friends with a horse just because? Was it watching awesome sunsets, and gazing at the starry night sky from the car? Was it visiting the fancy palaces and their gardens or being at the casino for the first time? Was it eating an awesome meal at l’Entrecôte or watching a movie with my beau?

Or was it taking long breakfasts in the sun, reading and having good discussions? Doing Sudoku puzzles that appear in the papers together like retirees? Watching him get his OCD on while he S-ifies his new house? (I’m not kidding when I say it’s ten times more comfortable when he puts his spin on it.) Or putting together a meal together and washing the dishes while occasionally pausing to satisfy our dancing feet? Or taking long walks with a coke in one hand? Or being our usual silly selves just because we can, whenever we can? Or being able to hold his hand while he drives down the street, and we put good music on? Or just being there and waking up each morning to see the sheepish grin on his face as I say “guten Morgen”?

Tough call, tough call.

Right now I’m going to sleep my jetlag off while wallowing in self-pity for having to be alone tonight, and for indefinite nights to come… it’s like we hit the restart button as this routine starts all over again. Scheiße.

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The Firsts in 2011

Some weeks back, I was on course (and still am but this is a different one) and the consultant began his introduction by asking everybody this question. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I thought this was an absolutely brilliant question! I’ve never pondered over this. I began to think about my whole year – which is highly appropriate seeing as to how this year is coming (really close) to a close.

But I’m proud to say I’ve done the following these year for the first time, ever:

  • Run a marathon

Acutally I did two – and I was the kind of girl who barely scrapes through her fitness tests. Running actually is a huge feat and possibly unimaginable a year back. I’ve gotten lazy again though, hopefully next year I would get my act together and run more.

  • Watch rugby

Who knows, maybe I’ll understand a new sport every year. This was thoroughly interesting for me. The sport itself is great, the players are huge but gentlemanly, and understanding the need for hakka and such was such an eye-opener!

  • Watch a musical

I finally did, I finally did! I caught Wicked (Australian cast) and it was so bloody brilliant, I was mesmerized by everything – the props, the costumes, the acting, the singing, the live orchestra – they were amazing. I would highly, highly recommend it and this will definitely be the start of many to come.

  • Drive

I finally passed my driving test this May, and got to drive only a handful of occasions – nevertheless, I love the feeling of empowerment when I’m behind the wheel. This is not to say I’m a brilliant driver though – I’m a horrible reckless driver. (Honesty is the best policy?) That’ll improve over time, I hope.

  • Graduate

Hell-freaking-yeah, I did. I had the gown, the mortar board, and all that jazz. I threw my mortar board up in the air. I didn’t trip while getting on stage to receive my certificate. I’m finally a graduate with a Bachelor degree.

  • Work, full-time

Yeah, following the above, I’m thankful I’m employed – in a rather well-perceived company, with rather lovely people. Hopefully when I’m back in the office (and receive the full blow of what my working life really is gonna be like), I’ll like it. One can only hope right?

  • Work in F&B industry

Oh gosh, this was the best holiday job ever. I loved the food, the people, meeting other people, collecting money, counting money, chopping up vegetables, making coffee. This was honestly, truly, deeply a huge interest of mine that I’ve discovered. Who knows, maybe some path in the future will lead me to F&B!

  • Travel to Madrid, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Brussels

I visited the above places for the first time during graduation trip and I liked them! I think I grew as a traveller, to better able to pack light, get more comfortable with wherever I was at, to desire indulging in a local’s life, walking down the streets and enjoying a good cup of coffee, as opposed to filling up my days with monument after monument. Great days!

  • Be in Paris alone

This was quite a feat – I’ve been on exchange but I’ve never spent days wandering around the streets of Paris on my own. On one of the days, I walked from 9th arrondisement to 2nd to 1st to 4th to 5th – all in a day. I saw more sights from an aimless walk than I ever did. That was really etched in my mind as I refused to check the metro map. And to be reminded of good memories, and still be fascinated by a city – that is the magic of Paris for me.

  • Be in a long-distance relationship

Mmm, I think it’s so damn easy to keep thinking about differences (in time, space, culture, language, traditions, backgrounds, etc), so I think the toughest bit about an LDR is to focus on the similarities and be accepting of the changes we’re undergoing separately. This, I definitely didn’t expect a year ago.

  • Witness a lunar eclipse

I swear that was really fascinating. I’ve never seen any before – but apparently there’s a solar eclipse in 2012, looking forward to that!

What have you done for the first time this year?